UA Minute in History: The Laboratory of Tree Ring Research

Ever wonder how old trees can get? Did you know there's a tree on campus that's over 2,000 years old and weighs more than 4,000 pounds? Find out more about trees and the lab that studies them in this UA Minute in History Video by Marissa Heffernan Music Credit: Swaying Daisies, Purple Planet Music

Ever wonder how old trees can get? What if I told you that I know a tree that was over 2,000 years old and weighed more than 4,000 pounds? Where is this tree located, and why is that important?

Find out with me, Pascal Albright, in this UA Minute in History.

In 1937, the study of tree-rings in America was solidified by the opening of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research here at the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

Its founder, Andrew Ellicott Douglass, was actually an astronomer who discovered a correlation between tree rings and the sunspot cycle. With that, his interest in tree rings grew and he ended up founding dendrochronology, or the study of tree rings. This also includes studying fire history, paleoclimatology, archaeology and biogeography.


The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research was temporarily moved underneath the west side of the Arizona Stadium — where it remained for 70 years. 

Finally, in January 2013, the LTRR’s new home was ready — the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, which is partly new and partly in the Math East building, as the lab has thousands of wood samples that need storage. 

The LTRR analyzes wood from all over the world, unraveling mysteries and discovering secrets held in the rings. The LTRR offers docent-led tours three days per month, taking visitors behind the scenes. 

I’m Pascal Albright, and thanks for watching this UA Minute in History. 

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